Book review

Dark Life by Kat Falls (2010)

There are Topsiders and Dark Life in this story. Which would you rather be? Global sea levels have risen so high that the human race is short of land. Everyone has to squish up a bit and live in tiny overcrowded spaces. It’s not much fun topside for most ordinary people, like Gemma:

She looked about my age, fifteen. But more astounding, she was from Above. No doubt about it. Between her pink cheeks and peeling nose, her face was a study in UV exposure.

Gemma isn’t too sure what to make of Ty either:

‘You’re glowing,’ she accused...
‘I’m not glowing,’ I told her. ‘It’s called a shine.’ I tried not to sound defensive. ‘It comes from eating bioluminescent fish.’

Ty’s family are pioneers. They live subsea. They farm fish and plankton and kelp. Actually his parents were part of the research team that built the first homestead. His father designed most of the houses. They are modelled on deep-sea invertebrates like jellyfish because those shapes work best in water:

We pulled up alongside my home. Transparent plastic wrapped the floating house, while honeycombed walls, filled with foamed metal, gave the building shape. I steered the cruiser past a large window and pointed at the room inside. ‘See? We don’t live much different from you.’
Gemma shot me a look. ‘Yes, we all have fish swimming outside our windows.’

In fact Ty was the first person ever born subsea. That means he has a massive amount of freedom but also quite a lot of baggage. There’s this urban myth that does the rounds topside, that water pressure does something weird to the developing brain. Adults aren’t affected. Their brains are already formed. Only kids get Dark Gifts:

My expression was calm. ‘Dark Gifts are a myth.’ I listened to my own voice. Distant. Almost bored. Good. I returned my gaze to the glowing blue control panel and added, ‘So’s the kraken, by the way.’
‘You found my sub, my jet-fin, in water blacker than tar,’ she pointed out. ‘You swam right to it.’
‘If you think I can see in the dark – I can’t...’

Well Ty may have to make a small correction about that later on, when he knows Gemma better. But that’s for the future. Right now, Gemma and Ty are hiding in a small derelict sub teetering on the edge of a deep-sea canyon. The sub’s gear room is awash with blood which may or may not be human. And there are outlaws outside the viewing dome. It’s the Seablite Gang:

For months, the Seablite Gang had terrorized the settlement, robbing every supply ship that floated our way. I had often wondered what would happen if I came across them.

He’s about to find out. He’s going to need to keep his wits about him. What happens next will shape the future for both Ty and Gemma and the whole subsea territory he calls home...

What can I read next?

There’s more. Enjoy!

If you like to think about a flooded world and what might happen to the displaced people you could look at this brilliant trilogy by Julie Bertagna:

Do you think you could be a leader and part of the solution when the world starts to run out of supplies? Perhaps you would enjoy this thoughtful series by Jeanne DuPrau:

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